Research Interests

Broadly, my research focuses on adults with neurogenic communication disorders, including acquired brain injury and aphasia. My work aims to (1) increase basic understanding of the neural mechanisms that support multi-modal communication and memory and (2) inform clinical assessment and treatment to improve specificity of rehabilitation and treatment outcomes for people with brain injury.

To this first aim, I focus on the contributions of the declarative memory system in using co-speech gesture to improve both communication and memory. This research takes a multiple memory systems approach by studying communicative behaviors in people with bilateral hippocampal damage and amnesia. These projects include investigating the role of the hippocampus in integrating speech and gesture during immediate retellings of a narrative (Hilverman, Clough, Duff, & Cook, 2018) and ongoing work investigating the role of the hippocampus in social cognition by examining the ability of people with amnesia to use gesture to adjust communication needs for a listener and communicate common ground knowledge. This research is supported by the Communication and Memory (CAM) lab at Vanderbilt University. The long-term goal of these projects is to identify ways to leverage gesture to improve communication and learning in people with neurogenic communication disorders.


My clinical research has focused on understanding the construct of fluency in aphasia and seeks to improve reliability of fluency assessment or people with aphasia (PwA). Reliability of fluency assessment has historically been poor due to its multi-dimensional nature. This current project seeks to understand the underlying contributors to categorical (Clough & Gordon, under revision) and continuous measures of fluency (Gordon & Clough, under revision). The goal of these projects is to develop a more objective assessment tool that includes standardized measures of underlying components of fluency, including grammatical competence, lexical retrieval, and facility of speech production. This tool would both improve reliability and inform treatment targets for PwA. This work is in collaboration with Dr. Jean K. Gordon at the University of Iowa. 

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Clough, S., Hilverman, C., Brown-Schmidt, S. & Duff, M.C. (Under review). The role of the hippocampus in audience-design: Evidence from amnesia.

Clough, S., & Duff, M.C. (2020). The role of gesture in communication and cognition: Implications for understanding and treating neurogenic communication disorders. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 14


Gordon, J.K. & Clough, S. (2020). How fluent? Part B. Underlying contributors to continuous measures of fluency in aphasia. Aphasiology.


Clough, S. & Gordon, J.K. (2020). Fluent or nonfluent? Part A: Underlying contributors to categorical classifications of fluency in aphasia. Aphasiology, 34, 515-539.


Clough, S. & Hilverman, C. (2018). Hand gestures and how they help children learn. Front. Young Minds, 6:29. doi: 10.3389/frym.2018.00029


Hilverman, C., Clough, S., Duff, M. C., & Cook, S. W. (2018). Patients with hippocampal amnesia successfully integrate gesture and speech. Neuropsychologia, 117, 332-338.